Nothing about quitting your job is easy. Not only do you have to think through the logistics of when and how you’ll leave your current company and transition over to your new position, but you also have to consider how your soon-to-be-former co-workers and bosses will take the news of your upcoming departure.
In order to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, take some time to consider how you will handle each step along the way. Perhaps no step is more important than learning how to write a resignation letter.
What is a Formal Resignation Letter?
A letter of resignation is a formal document in which you inform your employer that you are leaving your position at the company.
Understanding the purpose behind a letter of resignation is key to writing a good one.
According to David Marshall, the founder of Performio, “The purpose of a resignation letter is to prepare the company ahead of time for your exit. This allows your employer to seamlessly transition your role and responsibilities to your successor without causing any turbulence or loss of productivity within the workplace.”
In a few moments, we’ll discuss exactly how to write a resignation letter and what you should consider including in your document, but for now, we should note this further bit of advice from Marshall:
Remember that the company may issue your future employers with this document in the future when they ask for a reference. For this reason, you should always end your employment on a positive note, and do everything in your power to be minimally disruptive. That way, you can maintain good relations with employees long after your exit, which can lead to new opportunities in the future.
That last point of Marshall’s is very important. Your resignation letter will not only be seen internally by your former employer, but it could potentially be seen externally by prospective employers.
With that in mind, you’ll want to ensure that your tone throughout is
Now that you know the purpose behind such documents, it’s time to think about exactly what to say in a letter of resignation.
How to Write a Resignation Letter
When we consider how to write a resignation letter, here are a few best practices to get us started:
- Length – A resignation letter does not need to be long or complicated. In all, it should be no longer than one typed page. Most fill only the top half of a standard sheet of paper.
- Format – In a moment, we’ll discuss under what conditions you can send in a resignation email. In most situations, however, you’ll write a printed resignation letter. Be sure that you choose a standard font (Times New Roman; Arial), select a standard font size (12 point), and leave standard margins (1 inch). Lines should be single spaced, and you should break your text into paragraphs.
- Revisions – Most written work isn’t perfect in its first-draft form. Be sure to write your resignation letter a few days in advance, let it sit, and then come back to read it with fresh eyes. Clean up your style and grammar, cut out repeating elements or rabbit trails, and revise your letter of resignation down to its best form. Finally, ask a friend to proofread it or run it through a tool like Grammarly.
As you sit down to write the first draft of your resignation letter, you may have trouble getting started.
Here’s what we recommend.
How to Start a Resignation Letter
This is actually the easiest part.
All resignation letters start the same way.
- Header – At the top, include a standard header, including your employer’s contact information and the date.
- Greeting – Address your manager by name, using their formal title.
After that, it’s time to move into the substance of the resignation letter.
What to Say in a Letter of Resignation
After you’ve added your header and greeting, you’ll want to break the rest of the resignation letter into several short, specific paragraphs.
- First Paragraph – Simply state that you are resigning, giving the date your resignation will be effective. If applicable, express your regret in leaving and mention how much you will miss everyone, how grateful you have been for your time with the company, etc.
- Subsequent Paragraph(s) – Express your wish to help with the transition as your employer seeks to fill the position you’re vacating.
As we mentioned in one of the sections above, you’ll want to be careful about what you say here and how you say it. Keep your tone positive and hopeful, focusing on the simple fact that you’re leaving.
What NOT to Include in your Resignation Letter
If there’s one thing you don’t include in your resignation, it’s a list of complaints. Though in some circumstances you may feel tempted to do so, this is not the place to vent about all the things you didn’t like about your current job.
Even if you faced roadblocks at every turn, worked under an incompetent boss, and lacked tools and resources to do the job required of you, this isn’t the palace to mention those things.
According to Joseph Wilson, Senior Employment Advisor at MintResume, complaints should be saved for a later date.
In writing your resignation letter, there is no need to state bad things about your workplace. Just write the effectivity of your resignation, thank the company for all the opportunities they provide, and state that you are willing to extend any assistance to make the turnover easier. I know existing employees have a lot of things to say about their current company, but you can save that for exit interviews. Again, no matter how bad your current workplace, try to leave it as gracefully as possible.
And Wilson’s right. Any negative feedback you wish to offer should be saved for the exit interview, and even then, you should be careful about how you present it.
Another item you don’t need to include is what you plan to do next. Mentioning your future employer, your new salary, or anything of that nature is not recommended.
Resignation Letter Template
If you’re hoping to see these principles in action, you are in luck.
We’ve put together a resignation letter template to help set you on the right track.
January 1, 2035
Michelle M. Manager
Creative Strategies International
1234 Creative Strategies Road
Creativity, NJ 12345
I’m writing to notify you that effective January 15, 2035, I will be resigning my position as Creative Director here at Creative Strategies International. My time here has been wonderful, and I will miss everyone.
As we move forward, I’m happy to start documenting my daily tasks and processes to help with training whoever you choose to move into this position. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help make the transition as seamless as possible.
Edgar E. Employee
As you can see, resignation letters are short, sweet, and to the point.
Knowing how to write a resignation letter is one thing, but knowing how to submit them to your employer is another.
Can I Send My Resignation by Email?
The short answer: it depends.
In these days of increased flexwork and work-from-home arrangements, it’s more challenging than usual for some people to have in-person face time with their higher-ups. That means more people are turning in resignation emails than ever before.
But that’s not to say that resignation emails are now the industry standard.
When the time comes to quit, some professionals choose to have a conversation with their boss first, then follow up with a formal letter of resignation to make everything official. Others choose to allow the resignation letter to speak for them, then follow up with their boss afterward.
Whatever steps you take, you’ll want to follow proper internal protocols as specified by your companies. Some allow resignation emails, and even prefer them. Some require your resignation letter to be printed out and submitted in person. When in doubt, consult your HR department to review current policies.
If you do choose to send an email, it’s a good idea to follow up with a hard copy, signed and dated.
In the end, the process of how to write a resignation letter is fairly simple.
- Follow the standard formatting
- Keep things brief and to the point
- Mention specific dates
- Stay positive
As long as you bear these basic elements in mind, rest assured that you can write an excellent resignation letter.
Find your Dream Job with Lensa
Ready to level up in your job search with Lensa? Once you’ve finalized how to write a resignation letter, check out the blog for further resources!